The father-in-law of imprisoned Border Patrol Agent Ignacio Ramos is calling for an investigation of Border Patrol Agent Rene Sanchez – a longtime friend of the Mexican drug smuggler granted immunity to testify against Ramos and incarcerated fellow agent Jose Compean – as a possible “double agent.”
“I believe Rene Sanchez acted as a ‘double agent’ in the Ramos-Compean case,” Joe Loya, father of Ramos’ wife Monica, told WND. “He was doing everything he could to protect his life-long friend, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila, but at the same time he was working with Johnny Sutton to make sure Ramos and Compean were convicted.”
Loya further charged that he had reason to believe “Rene Sanchez’s actions make it look like he could have been in the drug business with Aldrete-Davila all along. The Department of Homeland Security never investigated, and from the beginning of this case Johnny Sutton was out to prosecute the Border Patrol, not the drug smugglers.”
As WND has previously reported, Sanchez and Aldrete-Davila grew up together in Mexico, prompting some observers – including Friends of the Border Patrol chairman Andy Ramirez – to question the propriety of a family friend of Aldrete-Davila playing such a major role in reporting the Ramos-Compean incident involving the drug smuggler.
Yet later, during the trial, Aldrete-Davila testified that Rene Sanchez suggested he should get immunity to testify against Ramos and Compean, get medical attention in the U.S. for his injury and consider filing a lawsuit against the Border Patrol. The drug smuggler further testified Sanchez was the person who helped him find an attorney in the U.S. to represent him when he testified for the prosecution at the Ramos-Compean trial and to sue the Border Patrol for violating his civil rights.
WND asked Loya what he believed Sanchez’s motivation was.
“The DEA should investigate whether Rene Sanchez was a partner to Aldrete-Davila in the drug smuggling business,” Loya responded. “The DEA should investigate whether Rene Sanchez is a mole planted by Aldrete-Davila’s drug connections to be their operative from within the Border Patrol.”
WND made repeated calls for comment from Rene Sanchez, phoning his office in Willcox, Ariz., and being referred to Rob Daniels, the Border Patrol’s public information officer in Tucson. Daniels told WND he had no comment on the story.
Loya cites a July 7, 2005, memo from Border Patrol Agent Nolan Blanchette as support for the need for an investigation of Sanchez. The memo, says Loya, makes one wonder how Sanchez, working in Willcox, Ariz., could have come by such accurate, early knowledge of drug smuggling runs on the border near Fabens, Texas, where Ramos and Compean were convicting in the Feb. 17, 2005, shooting of Osbaldo Adrete-Davila as he fled across the Mexican border.
“For a long time, I have believed that Rene Sanchez acted as a ‘double-agent’ in the Ramos-Compean case,” Loya charged to WND. “Now we have evidence in writing to back up that suspicion.”
“The Blanchette memo,” Loya said, “raises the question whether Rene Sanchez was passing on information to Blanchette so the Border Patrol could bust Aldrete-Davila’s competition that was operating with a truck and horse trailer rig along a route that Aldrete-Davila wanted kept open for himself.”
Loya said that since before the trial he believed Sanchez was working to promote life-long friend Aldrete-Davila in the drug smuggling business.
“He was part of what I believe was a conspiracy launched by prosecutor Johnny Sutton to convict agents Ramos and Compean at any cost, even if it involved lying,” Loya said.
The Blanchette memo was a report to his supervisor, R. Banjamin Robinson, at the Fabens, Texas, Border Patrol Station.
In the memo, Blanchette wrote:
On 07/07/2005 I received information from Rene Sanchez by telephone regarding a possibility that a Border Patrol Agent, working at the Fabens Station, was involved in narcotics smuggling.
Blanchette explained Sanchez told him narcotics were being smuggled into the Fabens area “using a truck and horse trailer” and that Sanchez believed a Border Patrol agent was involved in the operation that involved “driving the vehicle and trailer through the river into the United States on a regular or weekly basis.”
Blanchette noted Sanchez had contacted him on previous occasions “with information that I believed to be erroneous which later turned out to be factual.”
He also expressed surprise that Sanchez told him about the Ramos-Compean shooting incident before it became common knowledge.
Blanchette ends his memo by noting Sanchez “seems to be unusually well informed but gives me the impression that he is reporting all this information.”
Loya said he believes Sanchez was “working both sides of the street.”
“He was doing everything he could to protect his life-long friend, Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, but at the same time he was working with Johnny Sutton to make sure Ramos and Compean were convicted,” Loya said.
Loya insists the Drug Enforcement Agency should investigate whether Sanchez was a partner to Aldrete-Davila in the drug smuggling business.
“The DEA should investigate whether Rene Sanchez is a mole planted by Aldrete-Davila’s drug connections to be their operative from within the Border Patrol,” he said.
Acknowledging to WND that these were serious charges, Loya said Sanchez “is not as innocent as he maintains.”
“Take a look at the trial transcript and do some digging,” he said. “You’ll see why I’m calling for a DEA investigation.”
The trial transcript and evidence newly developed by WND suggests the Sanchez family has ties to drug traffickers in San Ysidro, Mexico. WND has obtained records from the U.S. District Court in El Paso which show Rene Sanchez’s brother, Hector Omar Sanchez, was convicted Jan. 23, 1996, on one federal charge of possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute or dispense and a second federal charge of importing marijuana into the U.S.
On March 18, 1996, Hector Omar Sanchez was sentenced to 22 months imprisonment and five years of supervisory release on each count, with the sentences to run concurrently. He resides in San Ysidro, Mexico, where he runs a car wash and a restaurant.
Loya said Hector Omar Sanchez and Rene Sanchez continue to stay in contact with Aldrete-Davila and his family in San Ysidro, despite Rene Sanchez’s assertions to the contrary.
Rene Sanchez’s mother-in-law grew up with Aldrete-Davila’s mother in San Ysidro, he noted.
“That’s a very tight community down there in Mexico and a lot of drugs pass through,” he said. “You have to believe a lot of people know what’s going on.”
A Department of Homeland Security investigative report written by Special Agent Christopher Sanchez (no relation to Rene Sanchez) March 14, 2005, documents that Rene Sanchez accessed the Border Patrol Tracking System to query for any internal information concerning a load of marijuana seized by the Border Patrol on Feb. 17, 2005, the day of the Ramos-Compean incident.
“This is highly irregular,” Loya said. “Rene Sanchez is a Border Patrol agent, not a Border Patrol investigator or internal affairs officer. What is Rene Sanchez doing accessing a Border Patrol computer system that gives him access to all Border Patrol drug interdictions across the country?”
A second DHS investigative report written by Christopher Sanchez July 18, 2005, documents that Rene Sanchez, who on Feb. 17, 2005, was assigned to the Border Patrol station in Willcox, Ariz., called Blanchette, who was temporarily assigned to the Border Patrol station in Fabens, Texas, near the drug crossing location of Aldrete-Davila on Feb. 17, 2005.
The July 18, 2005, Christopher Sanchez memo documents that Rene Sanchez had called Blanchette to ask if he knew “anything about a shooting that occurred on February 17, 2005, involving a van loaded with dope in which BP agents shot at the driver.”
Once again, Loya told WND these contacts were highly irregular.
“Rene Sanchez trained Nolan Blanchette at the academy,” Loya explained. “Why is Rene Sanchez, a Border Patrol agent way over in the Willcox, Ariz., sector, calling an agent back in Fabens, Texas, to ask about a drug incident Rene Sanchez suspects involves his friend, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila? This is highly suspicious.”
An examination of the Ramos-Compean trial transcript yields the following support for the contention Rene Sanchez and Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila were old and continuing friends:
- In direct examination by prosecutor Debra Kanof, Rene Sanchez testified (trial transcript, Vol. VI, beginning at page 225) that although he was born in the United States, he was raised in San Ysidro, Mexico, a town he left when he was 15 or 16 years old.
- Sanchez further testified he first learned of Aldrete-Davila’s involvement in the Feb. 17, 2005, incident through a phone call he received from his mother-in-law, Gregoria Toquinto, in late February or early March 2005.
- Sanchez said his mother-in-law called him from El Paso and reported on a phone call she had with Aldrete-Davila’s mother, Macaria, in Mexico. Sanchez said Toqinto and Macaria Aldrete-Davila had been friends since childhood.
- Sanchez further testified that while growing up in San Ysidro, he was a friend of Aldrete-Davila’s brother, Sergio, and that he knew Osbaldo when Sanchez was “a little kid.”
- In response to a question from prosecutor Kanof, Sanchez denied he kept in contact with the Aldrete-Davila family after he came to the U.S. at 15 or 16 years of age. Still, Sanchez admitted he was the chamberlain for Osbaldo’s sister’s quinceanera (15th birthday party). Sanchez testified he had not seen Sergio Aldrete-Davila since Sanchez was 18 years old.
- Yet, in cross-examination by Ramos’ attorney Mary Stillinger (trial transcript, Vol. VI, beginning at page 238), Rene Sanchez characterized San Ysidro as a small community of some 2,000, where families typically know one another.
- Rene Sanchez also admitted (Vol. VI, pages 255-256) he saw Aldrete-Davila in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico – across from McAllen, Texas – in 2004, when Sanchez was visiting another friend, Jose Osuna Toquinto, an engineer and another boyhood friend from San Ysidro. Sanchez testified Jose Osuna Toquinto was a cousin of his mother-in-law.
- Rene Sanchez further testified he keeps track of his old friends from San Ysidro and he frequently went to Tres Sacales – across from Fabens, Texas – with his wife, who also grew up in San Ysidro.
- No questions were asked of Rene Sanchez about his brother, Omar Hector Sanchez. WND has learned Stillinger and other defense counsel had no knowledge, at the time, of the trial of Omar Hector Sanchez.
On Feb. 22, 2006, under cross-examination by Stillinger at the Ramos-Compean trial, Aldrete-Davila contradicted Rene Sanchez by testifying he last saw Sanchez at Aldrete-Davila’s mother’s house, some six months prior to the trial (Vol. VII, page 208).
Aldrete-Davila also testified (Vol. VII, pages 214-215) that Rene Sanchez suggested to him Aldrete-Davila should get immunity to testify against Ramos and Compean, get medical attention in the U.S. for his injury and consider filing a lawsuit against the Border Patrol.
Aldrete-Davila further testified Rene Sanchez was the person who helped him find an attorney in the U.S. to represent him when he testified for the prosecution at the Ramos-Compean trial and to sue the Border Patrol for violating his civil rights.
“It’s all a lie that Rene Sanchez didn’t know Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila very well,” Loya maintained to WND.
“I believe Rene Sanchez probably even coached Aldrete-Davila what to say at trial, to maintain he was only delivering this load of marijuana because he needed money to buy medicine for his sick mother, to say he wasn’t a drug professional and that he was only scared, trying to get back to his family in Mexico,” Loya said.
When Rene Sanchez was called back to the stand March 2, 2006, Stillinger pursued a line of questioning with him that suggests Sanchez’s first response after learning from his mother-in-law that Aldrete-Davila was involved in the Feb. 17, 2005, incident was to go into the Border Patrol computer system to get information that would help his friend.
The trial transcript at Vol. XIII, page 116, has the cross-examination of Rene Sanchez by Stillinger.
The defense counsel’s questions were framed to suggest Rene Sanchez’s motive in searching the Border Patrol database, the BPETS, was to see if Aldrete-Davila might have a basis for a lawsuit against the Border Patrol.
Stillinger: Okay. And it was important to you to find out whether or not the shooting had been reported, right?
R. Sanchez: Yes, ma’am.
Stillinger: Okay. Because there might be a good lawsuit, if the shooting wasn’t reported, right?
R. Sanchez: If the shooting wasn’t reported?
R. Sanchez: If it wasn’t reported, I guess, ma’am.
Stillinger: I guess what I’m asking you is: What you were really doing was investigating the viability of a lawsuit, wasn’t it?
R. Sanchez: No, ma’am.
Stillinger: Okay. So even if you saw there wasn’t any chance for a lawsuit, because the shooting had been reported and it had been declared a justified shooting, you weren’t going to tell them, Yes, but I knew who the smuggler is, anyway, were you?
R. Sanchez: At the point when I saw the seizure on BPETS, I didn’t know who the smuggler was.
Stillinger: Well, you were only looking at it because you knew that Aldrete-Davila had been involved in an incident there, right?
R. Sanchez: I wasn’t – yes, ma’am.
Stillinger: Okay. And then you connected it to a seizure, right?
R. Sanchez: The first time I looked at BPETS, I didn’t have any knowledge of the shooting incident being connected to the seizure.
Loya remains suspicious that Rene Sanchez’s motives were to find the drug smuggler.
“Rene Sanchez wanted to protect his friend,” Loya said. “Frankly, I don’t believe the whole story about the mother-in-law. I’ve always thought it was a cover.
“What I think really happened is that Aldrete-Davila picked up the phone and told Rene Sanchez that he had been shot by Border Patrol,” Loya continued. “From that moment on, Rene Sanchez figured there just might be a way for them to cash in with a lawsuit.”
An examination of the trial transcript shows a discussion about the Blanchette memo, even though Judge Kathleen Cardone ruled the memo inadmissible.
In a sidebar with Cardone, Stillinger expresses her concerns directly (Volume XI, page 139): “And Rene Sanchez, I think his credibility whether he was acting as a Border Patrol or as a friend to Aldrete-Davila is a very important question for this jury to hear about.”
In cross-examining Christopher Sanchez March 1, 2006, Stillinger begins to question him about Blanchette’s memo. Cardone objects that no ruling has been made about the admissibility of the memo.
Still, in the sidebar between Kanof and Stillinger at the bench, the trial transcript records (Vol. XII, beginning at page 65) that Blanchette’s memo indicated Rene Sanchez seemed to know a lot about drug activity in the Fabens, Texas, sector, especially for an agent who was stationed in Willcox, Ariz.
Kanof tells Cardone, “Nolan Blanchette told his supervisors that Rene Sanchez had information about horse trailers being used to traffic.”
Stillinger objects to Cardone that when Christopher Sanchez got the Blanchette memo he shared it with Rene Sanchez rather than begin an investigation of Rene Sanchez himself.
Stillinger says in the transcript:
This guy (Christopher Sanchez) gets a memo in July, where somebody is saying – not terrible, but saying, I have concerns about Rene Sanchez. And it’s not terrible, but he seems unusually well informed.
This witness (Christopher Sanchez) does – instead of investigating it, he turns the memo over to Rene Sanchez, so Rene Sanchez can call Blanchette and say, Why are you writing these things about me? It’s not normal behavior.
It’s not normal behavior, I don’t think, for an OIG (Office of the Inspector General) agent to turn over an investigatory memo within hours of having received it, to turn it over to the subject of the memo. And I think that shows his bias in this investigation.
In the sidebar discussion that follows, Chris Antcliff, attorney for Compean, adds (Vol. XII, page 69), “And Rene Sanchez is a line agent in Willcox, Arizona, who has – apparently comes regularly into information about illegal drug activities in the Fabens sector of the Border Patrol here. The question is, Where is he getting that information?”
WND asked Stillinger to explain her suspicion concerning Rene Sanchez.
Stillinger replied she was under an order by the court not to discuss information about Rene Sanchez that was sealed at the trial by Judge Cardone.
Stillinger’s comment confirmed for WND that information about Rene Sanchez had been kept from the jury by Cardone. WND previously reported Cardone also sealed information about Aldrete-Davila’s second October 2005 drug incident involving Cipriano Ortiz-Hernandez.
Stillinger wanted to call Blanchette as a witness in the Ramos-Compean trial, to question him on the July 7, 2005, memo, but Cardone ruled the testimony would not be relevant.
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